Traveling alone is a special thing. It can be lonely, and boring, and frustrating, but often it's transcendent - it lifts you out of yourself and plops you right down where you are with an immediacy you don't get when you're worried about whether your travel companions are happy or tired or have sore feet. You wander on your own time, indulge your time in a way that simply can't happen when you're in your normal environs, whether in terms of geography or company.
This article gets it very right, in a slightly over the top way. I love this paragraph:
I want to think new things on holiday and the best way to do that is to go it alone, allowing yourself a space — a beautiful space, with any luck — that is circumscribed neither by your need to perform nor your need to blame. Get up when you like. Skip as many museums as you like. Eat or don’t eat. Dance or don’t dance. Swim far out if you want to. Drink Champagne at breakfast. Write a paragraph if you have one to write. Say nothing for days and dream of home. Keep the light on all night.
One of my favorite things to do is to fall asleep with the light on, still fully clothed. It feels deliciously transgressive, a mini holiday. A few years ago Mike surprised me with a trip to wine country for my birthday, and after we checked into our hotel after a full day of tippling and a big dinner, I fell right asleep. Slightly sunburnt, slightly drunk, completely happy. Every once in a while I would wake up in the big hotel bed under the cool white sheets and ask Mike if I had to get ready for bed yet. He was reading, and I think was more amused by me going to sleep at 9 p.m. on my birthday than anything else. Nope, I didn't have to get ready for bed yet, not if I didn't want to. So I would go back to sleep with a delicious feeling of freedom and happiness, like a snow day and an unopened present wrapped in one.
That's the feeling I get when I travel alone. I can wander and wander until I find the exact perfect restaurant for my mood, I can have wine with lunch, I can move on to the next city whenever I like. I've taken some wonderful trips lately, with wonderful company, but I'll always be glad for the times I find myself someplace new all alone.